Congratulations for bringing home a fury friend. But what next? You have two options in this – the first is to sign him up for puppy training classes and the second one is to schedule him up for in-home training (puppy kindergarten).
Which between these two types of training will benefit your puppy the most?
Remember that each of these two options comes with its share of pros and cons. But overall, with the right training program, in-home dog training is by far the most effective way to train your dog.
Why Train Your Dog?
We all love our dogs. Or aren’t their antics just cute?
They explore with their mouths – chew on everything (your shoes are not spared). They’ll then pee on carpet, and spend the rest of the day chasing the household cat.
Despite all this mess, you still can’t help looking at their roly-poly bellies, and your heart just melts away.
We train our dogs because we love them. We train them so they can harmoniously live with us.
All this could have been a whole lot easier if dogs came with an instruction manual. But sadly, they don’t, and we have to rely on training programs to teach them how to be non-aggressive and friendly towards our family members and the other pets in our home (including other dogs).
Puppies are adorable. Unfortunately, they’re not meant to remain puppies for long. Some of the endearing things he does will soon become exasperating, making you hate yourself for not training them earlier.
Puppies need to be taught a lot of things. They need to be taught how to socialise and navigate the world without becoming much of a nuisance to other dogs and the people that interact with them.
Training a puppy also helps to instil confidence in them. You want them to view you as a friend – or as someone with good intentions so they can learn to trust you.
After bringing your puppy home, the first idea you’ll have is to enrol them to a puppy kindergarten.
What’s a Puppy Kindergarten?
Before the idea of puppy kindergarten was born, dog training was limited to adult dogs – dogs over the age of six. Dogs would be taught using physical correction, which focused on instilling the idea of compliance, with a human ‘master’ as the dominant figure.
However, much has changed over the years. And thanks to the likes of Dr Dunbar who came up with the idea of puppy classes, it’s proven to be even more effective to train puppies using positive reinforcement – where dogs are rewarded for behaving in a certain way until they adopt it as a habit.
Otherwise referred to as Puppy kindergartens, puppy owners from every part of the world are enrolling their little bundle of fury in some kind of training classes.
Puppy kindergartens are like the cornerstone of proper dog training and socialisation. It’s to be however noted that not all puppy kindergartens are created equal. A well-run class will help you raise a confident and well-behaved dog.
However, a poorly run one can cause serious damages that your dog may never live to recover from.
Even more important, puppy training should be an ongoing thing, and not a one-time activity. A puppy class can only cover a limited number of topics, which doesn’t exactly make it the best out there.
Pros of Puppy Kindergarten
Putting your pup in a training class packs its share of positives.
Puppy Socialization Classes
Your puppy needs to be taught how to conduct himself while around other dogs, and that’s where the idea of socialisation comes in.
Failure to teach your dog how to socialise may trigger skittish behaviour in the dog when he meets people or interacts with other dogs.
You can teach socialisation skills to your dog at home. But there’s no better way to go about it than teaching him about it in a group setting, when he’s around other dogs.
Good for Teaching Basic Commands
Training your dog goes far beyond teaching them to sit, stand, and fetch.
But one thing you’ll agree with is that you have to start somewhere, and that’s exactly where puppy kindergartens come in handy.
Your dog might not learn much, but they’ll at least be taught basic commands that you can always build upon.
Connect with Other Dog Lovers
Puppy kindergarten are a great opportunity for you to meet with other dog owners within your locality and form some camaraderie.
Here are a few reasons networking with other dog owners may prove to be useful to you:
- For support in case you incur any issue with your puppy in future.
- For company when you decide to organise a party for your little furry friend or go for a hike.
- To exchange services. For instance, when you need someone to help you baby sit your dog, you don’t have to look further than friend in the community.
Both you and your puppy will end up with a friend – how cool!
The Cons of Puppy Kindergarten
Puppy kindergarten is not the best option you’ve got. It does arrive with a series of concerns that we plan to address in this section of the post.
It’s a One-Time Fix
Like we said, dog training is an on-going process and not a one-time fix.
You don’t just take your dog to school and hope that he’ll be trained to be a great dog. Just because you took your kid to kindergarten that doesn’t mean he’ll be a great adult.
A few weeks of training isn’t just enough. For all we know, your dog needs to be trained on an ongoing basis.
Moreover, some canine behavioural issues have been found to never show until later on in a dog’s life – after they’re out of puppy school and you’re left with him alone at home.
Classes are good and of great help to a puppy. But most of the time, they do not provide the foundation that works to prevent some behavioural issues that may arise down the road.
It’s true that this is one thing that puppy kindergartens have been struggling with and have yet to come up with a solution that puts everything to rest.
Plus, they have so much on their plate already, and a limited time-frame in which they have to work on your dog and transform him.
So, most of the time, they’ll be focusing on the basics – dog food, worming, and vaccination, with only a limited of their attention directed to understanding a dog’s behaviour.
Over-reliance on Food Rewards and Treats
Training classes tend to rely on clickers and food rewards for training. While this method works, new puppy owners have to understand there’s more to dog training than bribing dogs with clicker and treats.
In other words, there’s a limit as to how far you can go with this. Plus, you can’t rely on them for long.
First, this method only works for dogs that are easily impressed with food. And most of the time, they only work for pups, and have no long-term viability.
Try associating this with training your kids. Imagine rewarding them with a candy every time they do something good. This will work when the kid is young. But when the moment they outgrow candy, everything changes.
A bad Mix of Puppies
Let’s begin by saying there’s nothing like a bad dog. Dogs only misbehave because they’ve not be trained right.
It’s the same thing as taking your kid to a class. You can’t exactly say that one of their classmates is bad or spoilt.
Some of the kids will of course be shy, naughty, super-hyped, or bullies. There’ll be some that love to pluck pages in their book and eat, and the list continues.
While all these problems can be corrected, some of them are influential. Kids also learn from each other. Unless you tell them not to, they’ll see a certain kid doing something, and the next thing you know they’re trying to emulate them.
It’s the same thing with pups. Some of the things other dogs do can be distracting. It will be hard to get your dog to focus when the dogs around him are misbehaving.
The Risk of Conducting an Illness from Other Unvaccinated Puppies
Puppies are delicate and exposed to a wide range of life-threatening illnesses. They also have a weakened immune system, and are always at risk of developing serious complications.
Any vet would advise you to stick to a vaccination schedule. At the same time, they’d want you to keep your puppy away from other pups until he’s received all the shots.
However, some uninformed pet owners don’t take any of these advices serious. The last thing you want is for your pup to come in contact with a sick pup.
Whether or not you’ve vaccinated your pup, you have to be very careful with where you take him or the dogs you let him hang with. Keep in mind that the pup is both young and vulnerable, and the more you allow it to mingle with sick dogs, the more you’re putting his life in danger.
In comes In-home Dog Training Programs
In-home dog training programs are meant to benefit both the dog and the owner.
On first hearing, you might be tempted to think that these programs are expensive and only reserved for the wealthy class. But take a closer look and one thing you’ll realise is that they’re the most cost-effective and productive form of training, better suited for both young and adult dogs with behavioural issues.
Dogs behave differently at home and when they’re out in a social setting. They might demonstrate a certain behaviour at home, and completely hide it in an obedience class or when they’re in the company of others dogs.
The reason being dogs feel so much comfortable while at home. They have no pressure to behave in a certain way. Furthermore, there’s nothing to distract them.
It’s therefore safe to say there’s no better place to train a dog or puppy than right at their place of residence.
As a trainer yourself, you also get to operate with first-hand information on the dog – and not on someone else’s description of the dog.
You have to understand that some of the behavioural issues dogs display start off small. They might never be detected in the early stages. Still, you have to sniff them out earlier and address them right on time before they become incorrigible.
It takes a certain level of experience to be able to pick on these issues and address them on time, and that’s what these in-home dog training programs seek to address.
These programs first look into the individual behaviour of a dog instead of generalising everything. Everything begins with assessing the dog, after which you have to come up with a detailed description of the dog before coming up with a game plan on how to move things forward.
Remember, no two dogs are the same, and there’s no one-size-fits-all training procedure for every dog out there.
In-Home Puppy Training – The Good
The first advantage of an in-home dog training program is the flexibility that comes with it. It allows you to work with your personal schedule.
As you’re soon to find out, training your own dog at home offers you a lot of time slots. However, when you decide to enrol your dog to some class, you only have one training slot reserved for you. You miss it and you’ll have to wait until the next day before you take the dog for training again.
It’s tailored to Fit Your Goals
With in-home training you’re not working with assumptions or what’s generally known about dogs or a certain breed of dogs. So, if your dog generally barks at strangers or love chasing after the neighbour’s cat, an in-home training program allows you to work on this specific behaviour instead of targeting everything on specs.
You also get to decide what pace you want to move with. For instance, you might choose to extend the duration for teaching a certain command once it occurs to you the dog has yet to fully grasp it.
You don’t have to wait
With an in-home dog training program, you don’t have to wait until your dog is of a certain age to start training him. You can start immediately, even with a one-day puppy.
However, with a group class, you have to wait until the puppy has had all the essential vaccination before you can enrol him for a class.
It also works for adult dogs, as it alleviates the risk of your dog being exposed to common dog illnesses such as kennel cough and virus.
Not all Dogs are suited for Group Class.
Some dogs will never work with a group class. Talking about the nervous and fearful types of dogs.
Does your dog get distracted when around other people? Does it get aroused? How does it react to strangers and other dogs?
If your dog is the type that always resist any attempt to mingle out with other dogs or strangers, enrolling him for a group class is only bound to do him more harm than good.
Of course, some of you will argue that you have to expose the dog to some of thing they fear to let them overcome it. However, with dogs, it could be quite the opposite.
If you want to help him overcome his fears, then you have to learn to take everything gradual. Exposing them blatantly to things that make them nervous will only aggravate their condition by making them even more fearful.
In-Home Dog Training Program – The Bad
The biggest challenge of training your own dog at home is that you’ll be robbing your dog the opportunity to socialise with other dogs.
However, some of these training programs understand the implications involved, and would suggest that you take the dog out regularly for a walk. You might also want to develop a camaraderie with other dog owners and organise for your dogs to meet and spend some time together.
It’s even better because you have a chance to personally vet the dogs and ask some questions before you agree to the meeting. It comes with an extra layer of protection as opposed to the socialisation the dog gets in a group school.
It’s a Wrap
Overall, an in-home dog training program is by far the most effective way to train your dog. First, it’s because there’s no limit as to what you can teach your dog.
In-home training is also effective in terms of productivity and cost. Remember, you’ll also be training your dog at an individual level, where you get to decide on what to teach him and what to discard instead of following a generalised curriculum.